The Gambler

On Christmas Day 2014 actor Mark Wahlberg starred in a movie entitled The Gambler. It was a remake of a 1974 film with the same name. The story is about a college professor who is addicted to gambling. He places all of his winnings on a single play only to loose. In true Hollywood fashion the rest of the movie is about him having one more chance to redeem himself—which of course he does. I started thinking about people who gamble. The concept of betting it all on one huge payout is an allure that I have not been able to wrap my brain around. Perhaps the adrenaline it produces is so great that it overrides all logic or ability to reason otherwise. I understand that as with any addiction, the drive to have “it” is real. I understand wanting to be the best so bad that you compromise friends and family to obtain it. I even get being so obsessed with getting something that you sacrifice things in your life that are important. But I have not been able to wrap my brain around wanting someone so badly that you risk your very life to get it. As I thought through this, I realized that there is another kind of gambler. One who is not only willing to risk it all, but also willing to risk it for ever and ever and ever. It was a soberly scary thought. Life is a funny thing; and I do not necessarily mean in a laughing way. I have lost it all—a couple of times—but at the end of the day I still have my life. I can still pick up and start over. Let me explain.

In the Old Testament book of Proverbs, king Solomon pens words like, “A fool has said in his heart that there is no God.” Taking some poetic liberty I would like to modify that to say, “A gambler says there is no God.” In other words, I can live the way I please doing what I want the way I want when I want. When I exhale the last breathe of life my life is over, end of story. I am certain you have known people like that—perhaps you are one of them. It wasn’t until I began thinking in this gambler line of thought that I realized what a gambler you are. You are saying that you are so sure that when you breathe your last breath that the story of your life fads into old forgotten memories. My question is how can you be so certain? What proof do you have that you are correct? How many people have you spoken with who have experienced death and confirmed that you are accurate? I can hear the critics now shouting how I am only attempting to scare someone into some religious bondage. I can hear them cry out what if my belief about there being an eternity is incorrect? As far as scaring someone into believing something, I have never found that to be a honest approach. I recall reading about an actor who claims to be an atheist because of his strict upbringing as a religious child. That sounds to me like a scare tactic that didn’t work out very well. On the other hand as far as proving my belief about there being an eternity is correct, I can’t anymore than anyone can prove that it isn’t. I hold to the belief that the son of God—Jesus Christ—died and rose from the dead in order to fulfill the will and desire of God the Father to redeem mankind back to himself. I can point to the belief that Jesus is indeed alive by many miraculous phenomena over the past two thousand or so years. I can boldly state that I have seen him once. But all of that is speculation at best. The deeper question is, are you the gambler who is willing to bet it all that once you breathe your last it is over? I think about it this way. For argument sake, lets say you are right. I live my life missing out of pleasures that I could have enjoyed. But what does that matter? Once I am dead, it’s over. I will never know that I missed out. For argument sake, lets say I am right. You live your live enjoying all the pleasures you want the way you want when you want. Perhaps you were even good enough to do so without getting caught by the law and ending up in jail. However you die only to find out you were wrong. What happens then? According to the scriptures of the Bible, you will have an eternity in torment realizing that you were wrong. Let me ask you a question. Which of these arguments do you suppose make more sense? Are you willing to bet it all on the off chance that you are right? Jesus asks the question what good is it to gain everything on earth only to loose everything in eternity? Of course if you do not believe in eternity, then it is an irrelevant question. The point of this is to draw you into a conversation with yourself about the kind of person you are. Are you a gambler? If your answer is yes, then have you thought through the enormity of the gamble you are taking? If you say, but if I believe it your way, my life will be meaningless and boring. That could be true if you became a religious person. Religion tends to be boring. However having a relationship with the godhead tends to be both exciting as well as scary. It is my hope that a few of the life-gamblers will stumble upon this writing and spend enough time processing what it says to perhaps reach a different conclusion.